Our Ref: HSR/1/3
Head Office Circular: NP/437/21
2nd December 2021
To: The Secretary
RICF – WEARING OF FACE COVERINGS
Further to Circular NP/410/21, dated 22nd November, I have today received updated guidance from the Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum, which your NEC has noted and instructed me to issue.
The guidance is as follows:
All employees, contractors and tenants are required to wear face coverings when they are at work at stations and on train (where there is no physical barrier between passengers and employees/contractors/ tenants). It should be noted that in Scotland and Wales it is a legal requirement for transport employees to wear face coverings in the same locations as passengers, while in England it is not a legal requirement.
Face coverings are an extension of the existing public health measures of hand hygiene, ventilation and vaccinations. Discipline and vigilance are required by all to maintain these controls with effective supervision, along with regular checks and inspections.
Face coverings include face masks (reusable and single use), and other reusable face coverings provided by the employer and worn by the employee. A visor can be provided but would need to be supplemented by a facemask.
The application of these principles in rail locations will be based on the risk assessment to consider local circumstance and factors such as wearing for prolonged periods and/or in hot weather.
Face coverings will be expected to be worn by rail employees:
• when in a train carriage whether working (including travelling pass) or travelling to work
• on station platforms
• on station concourses
• information points/booking offices without a glass or Perspex barrier
• Travelling in enclosed road transport including taxis, buses, coaches and car shares whilst on duty or travelling to or from work.
Rail employees in England will not normally be expected to wear a face covering:
• When working at a desk or workstation – which includes working in booking offices and information points behind a glass, Perspex, or similar physical barrier
• When sitting in a rest room with good ventilation
• When working alone at a location (e.g. single staffed station or ticket office)
• When working in any train cab
• When stepping onto the platform from a train cab to conduct train dispatch
• When working or walking in non-passenger facing outdoor locations such as sidings, yards and walking routes unless the risk assessment for the task being carried out requires a face covering or respirator to be worn
• When carrying out train maintenance or servicing activities, unless the risk assessment for the task being carried out requires a face covering or respirator to be worn
• In station car parks
• When talking to hearing impaired passengers or colleagues who may rely on lipreading unless a mask with a see-through panel is provided
• When using showers, etc. in the workplace
• Where there is a medical restriction that prevents wearing face coverings such as asthma.
In all nations, rail employees will not normally be expected to wear a face covering:
• When stepping onto the platform from a train cab to conduct train dispatch and/or when undertaking station dispatch duties where a face covering may impede visibility or safety critical communications
• When a safety critical employee believes at any other time that a face covering will impede urgent safety critical communications
Rail companies will engage, explain and encourage passengers to wear face coverings. This is part of the public health messaging and employees are not expected to enforce this.
It should be noted that the detailed requirements to wear face coverings by passengers may differ between England, Wales and Scotland.
Please bring this to the attention of all relevant members. I will keep you advised of further developments.